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major concerns I've had were misdiagnosed and due to the second opinions, I
was able to get the proper treatment. Saying that, I'm sure if I were to have a
heart attack tomorrow, I'd be glad I was covered with IMSS and I'm sure my
treatment would be good enough to offset the cost I would have to put out if I
weren't covered.
Words of warning for newbies to IMSS coverage: This is NOT medical care
like you're accustomed to up north. (Which is good and bad.) Your first clue is
when you are asked for a urine sample and they hand you a small mayonnaise
jar (sans label) with a big "M" on the red lid (McCormick). I'm sure they are
sterilized, but still it is different than the sterile cups up north that come com-
plete with instructions for a "clean catch" and include a handy wipe, all sealed
in plastic.
I would not recommend IMSS for those who speak no Spanish. Even
though I've had a few doctors in the emergency room who speak some
English, almost everything else, from getting your appointment, to speaking
with your family doctor, to picking up prescriptions, is in Spanish. Most staff
have been very helpful, but there have been a few that showed their impatience
with my stuttering Spanish. If you can afford coverage at Sharp, I understand
they have more English speaking personnel. But if your budget demands you
choose IMSS, either enroll in a Spanish class, or be sure to take along a friend
who can translate for you.
The system is similar to HMOs in the U.S. (and I assume to the socialized
system in Canada) where the starting point for everything is the family doctor.
If the problem is something the family doctor can't handle, he approves your
visit to a specialist. The IMSS specialist clinic is halfway between Ley 1 and Ley
2. Your first time there, you need to stand in line to create your patient file.
After that, you don't need to fetch it yourself. If they have an appointment for
you, they'll have the file there and waiting. But be prepared the first time.
Obtaining your turn in line is like doing battle at the market or getting on the
bus; you have to elbow your way to the front. Other than that, most services
are orderly and everyone is careful to wait their turn.
My first brush with IMSS care was during an elevated blood pressure crisis
that took me to four emergency room visits, two of them being all-night stays.
The last trip there, their treatment was making me worse. It was after paying
for a specialist visit to a cardiologist that he diagnosed that my blood levels
were low in potassium and prescribed a potassium supplement that I paid for
out-of-pocket, but it solved the problem.
A couple of interesting observations: Many of the IMSS doctors are also in
private practice and many also work at Sharp. So it doesn't necessarily mean
that because you have cheap insurance, you're getting substandard doctors. It's
M a z a t l a n I S P a r a d i s e